Lollipop Chainsaw is the newest game from the twisted minds of Suda 51 (No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned), and Hollywood director James Gunn (Dawn of the dead remake). You play as Juliet, a cute, ditsy, and anatomically correct high school cheerleader. Juliet is no ordinary cheerleader though, she comes from a family of zombie hunters, and knows how to kick some serious butt. On her 18th birthday, a serious zombie outbreak takes over, causing many casualties, including Juliet’s boyfriend, Nick. Being the wacky world it is, Juliet decapitates her boyfriend before the infection takes over, performs some wacky ritual, and voila, Nicks severed head is alive and er… kicking. Nick provides the intelligent humor throughout the game, while Juliet says outrageously inappropriate things that you would never expect to come from a cheerleader’s mouth.
The gameplay is basic, with the usual hack n slash, beat em’ up style of games like God of War and Bayonetta. There are upgrade stores that expand Juliet’s arsenal of moves and combos, but ultimately the combat feels repetitive, and you will find yourself repeating the same moves over and over again. There are tons of collectibles, like Lollipop wrappers, outfits for Juliet, and mp3’s to buy from the upgrade store, so those looking to get everything will have a fair amount to collect. Unfortunately, for those that like to “one and done” a game will find yourself pushing through the whole of the campaign in around 6 hours. The game offers leaderboards and online competitive modes which have you completing the same levels with certain conditions and time limits, but this mode feels shallow and thrown in, and only big fans of the game will find themselves going for the gold. While that all might be a turn off for some, the thing this game really focused on was its style, and humor. Stereotypes, cliches, and sexual innuendos are in abundance. Many times the camera will focus on Juliet in provocative positions, giving pervy gamers a look at her assets. It’s incredibly stupid, and absolutely fantastic all at the same time. The collaboration of style’s between Gunn and Suda is very prevalent, and they created something truly different.
The visual style of Lollipop reminds me of the Scott Pilgrim books, with comic book menu’s, and art lining the entire game. The game itself is Cel shaded, giving the game the look of a cartoon, and it works very well for the game. The gratuitous violence is far lessgrotesque when rainbows and stars are flying out of Juliet’s chainsaw and zombie’s heads. The soundtrack is clever, with songs like The Chordettes “Lollipop” for the upgrade menu, and Toni Basil’s “Mickey” for Juliet’s overdrive mode. Dubstep , Rock n’ Roll, and Metal all line the rest of the game’s awesome soundtrack, featuring artists like Skrillex, Joan jett and the Blackhearts, and Children of Bodom. More songs are bought in the upgrade store, and can then be customized to the player’s preference, ensuring you hear only the music you like. The music really adds atmosphere to the game, and the entire soundtrack is fantastic.
Overall, Lollipop Chainsaw delivers on its terms of style, and offers a truly wacky premise and experience, but the combat is repetitive and hollow, and the campaign was disappointingly short. Those looking for a a truly different game that will leave you saying “WTF just happened?” will find a lot of joy and entertainment in this game. However, those looking for something to hold them over until the next AAA title comes out will be left disappointed. That being said, I can never look at a cheerleader again and not be disappointed she doesn’t have a pink-heart chainsaw tucked away in her practice bag.
B-sides rating: 6/10
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3